All Roads Lead to Rome – Italy Introduces a New Highway Code
When in Rome, Do Not Drive As the Romans Do
Driving in Italy has always been considered a task best undertaken by Italians, especially in large cities. To an outsider, it appears that anarchy reigns and traffic lights and traffic rules are advisory, at best. From speeding to driving with mobile phone in hand, a visitor quickly understands why the number of people injured on Italian roads is five times the number as on French roads.
(For an understanding of even how some Italians see driving in Italy, see the excellent Bruno Bozzetto animation at the end of this story.)
The adoption of a new highway code is an attempt to get Italians to improve behavior behind the wheel. Already in force are important road safety rules. One deals with pedestrian crossings, a common source of death and injury in the country. Many crossings are not well marked, but the new code promises a “more rigorous right of way” for pedestrians, although it’s not clear how this will be enforced.
Speeding and driving while intoxicated are also covered by the new code. Drivers under the age of 21 are not permitted to drink at all and the permitted blood-alcohol level for those older than 21 has been lowered from 0.8 grams to 0.5 grams per liter.
For visitors, the new rules also mean that they can no longer drive with impunity and immunity: foreigners caught breaking the law will have to pay their fines on the spot or risk having their cars impounded.
–Paul Riegler is associate editor for technology at Executive Road Warrior.